Choosing A Preschool

Selecting a program for your preschooler takes not only research, but knowing what to look for. Quality programs have three important ingredients: teachers who guide children's development and who work with parents; a physical environment that keeps children safe and healthy; and, activities that are suited to each child's stage of growth and that help children develop mentally, socially, physically, and emotionally.

As you set out to choose a preschool or child care program for your child, visit programs and consider these questions:

Do the teachers support children's growth and learning?

Do the teachers greet children and parents as they arrive?

Do the teachers use simple, positive directions and speak to children in a friendly manner or do they say negative things like "no" or "don't" and "bad?"

Do they show much interest in the children, or do they tend to spend too much of their time arranging materials and talking to each other?

Do they have a sense of humor?

Do they encourage independence?

Do they build children's language skills?

Do they pose questions to foster thinking?

Does the environment encourage positive social behavior?

Are rules for behavior fair and consistently enforced?

Do the teachers provide reasons for rules?

Are children encouraged to find positive solutions to conflicts?

Are the children encouraged to feel good about themselves?

Is the environment safe, healthy and child-centered?

Is the environment reasonably clean?

Are health practices followed (e.g., handwashing, separate and sanitary toileting and diapering areas)?

Are the indoor and outdoor environments safe for children?

Are there regularly scheduled nutritious meals and snacks?

Is meal time pleasant?

Is there an adequate setting and equipment for rest time?

Is there enough suitable equipment?

Are materials on shelves accessible to the children?

Is there child-sized furniture?

Are furnishings in good repair?

Are rooms tidy and organized in a way that makes sense to a child?

Are the children's projects displayed at a child's eye level?

Are the children happy and actively involved?

Are the children involved in meaningful activities ?

Do activities support children's natural curiosity?

Are children allowed choices throughout the day?

Are children allowed to explore?

Are activities planned which encourage physical activity?

Are there opportunities for children to have meaningful interactions with both children and adults?

The classrooms should be active and pleasantly noisy. Children should choose their own play activities and play at their own pace. You should rarely observe all the children doing the same thing at the same time.

Appropriate programs welcome parents at anytime. Family members can come into the program and play with the children. Parents can share their talents and culture with the group. Teachers arrange time to talk with parents regularly.

Be sure to visit several programs during your search, then follow your instincts when making your selection. If your child is happy and looks forward to his preschool or child care program, you'll know you've made a good choice.